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One of the most charming places I have ever been to. From all the places I know, this was my favorite travel. Landscapes worth of a movie set, everything I saw in July 2008 is carved so strongly in my memory that every now and then I dream that I am back to this magical little piece of the world.
The good surprises came partially because I joined the adventure of knowing the UK by accident. My boyfriend was going to attend a congress in Dublin, and I tagged along. A group of classmates planned the trip and decided the places we would visit.
Located in Antrim County (northeast coast of Northern Ireland), GIANT’S CAUSEWAY is the most amazing place I have ever seen. The landscape is the result of a volcanic eruption and started many legends, whose main character would be a giant warrior.
Stories aside, there are around 40 thousand stones sculpted by nature; hexagons that fit together in 1 km between the ocean and the mountain.
Giant’s Causeway was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1986 and National Nature Reserve in the following year. It is a fascinating place, where all you want to do is admire it for hours. I have no doubt I will go back there as many times as possible.
Still on the northeast coast, we visited Ballintoy. It is specially known for CARRICK-A-REDE, a 20 meters rope bridge that links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island.
Near Carrick-a-Rede, we also visited DUNLUCE CASTLE, a now-ruined medieval castle. Built in the 13th century by Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, it was the home of clan families until the late 1600s, when there was the Battle of the Boyne. Since then, the castle has deteriorated and parts of it have been used as materials for nearby buildings. It is located on the edge of a mountain and it is open for visits, totally worthwhile.
And not to say that we did not enjoy the beaches in the strong summer weather (10°C is hot in this region where it rains almost every day), we went to WHITEROCKS BEACH, around Dunluce Castle. I must confess I was more surprised by the surfers in the freezing ocean than by the color of the sedimentary rocks. At the entrance, there was a sign advising people to be careful with the sun, even though it did not show up while we were in the country.
In the land of civilization, where the pubs open for business very early, we had a strategic stop at CARNLOUGH, a small village near Coleraine where we saw the local harbour.
Fifteen kilometers from Coleraine, we visited OLD BUSHMILLS, the oldest working distillery in County Antrim, since 1608. A guide explained all the stages of producing whiskey, and in the end we were allowed to choose a beverage to taste. As I hate whiskey (I went under peer pressure), I had some sweet tea with a dash of whiskey and cinnamon.
TAKE NOTE 1
I was not entirely convinced by the sign to be careful with the sun, and I really do not think it is so hot, even at the height of summer in Europe. We left France and its 30°C and caught rain, heavy wind and temperatures between 10°C to15°C for a week.
The boys had taken boots, hats and raincoats – which I strongly recommend and promise to pack next time I go to Northern Ireland. Just for the record, the girl wearing a knife pleat skirt in the Carrick-a-Rede picture c’est moi. I advise you not to do so without supervision and/or a rescue team. Local people wear shorts and T-shirts, as if they were in the northeast of Brazil, not in Northern Ireland. In other words, do not be misled by their clothes; I suspect those guys are waterproof.
Do not worry about taking an umbrella, you can buy one anywhere. I know, you just thought “How come I am not taking an umbrella?” Been there, done that – until I spent 5 endless minutes under heavy rain and gelid wind that drowned my clothes and good mood. Only then I changed my mind, entered the first store I saw and bought the most beautiful blue and white polka dot umbrella. I never thought happiness could come down to so little.
TAKE NOTE 2
How to get there: Train to Dublin, through Belfast to Coleraine, where we stayed and rented a car to explore the region. Check train routes and fees between the two Irelands at TRANSLINK.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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